How the Socio-Ecological Model and Public Health Theory can help Companies Address Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

At TMI Action,we understand that sexual violence affects many people’s lives -- both professionally and personally. We provide a holistic approach to address sexual misconduct and harassment in your workplace, by utilizing Public Health Theory and the Socio-Ecological Model. By breaking this issue down utilizing these tools, your organization will recognize how to address, and then prevent these actions, ultimately building a safe and non-hostile work environment.

Public Health is defined as “the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society". Or in simpler terms "Public Health promotes and protects the health of people and the communities where they live, learn, work and play." The objective is to identify health disparities and then enact solutions to fix these problems before they affect communities.

Public Health officials base their practices on Behavior Change Theories that can be applied to health and injury prevention and control. Based on the population, location, and complexity of an issue there are many Behavior Change Theories that can be used to address certain problems. The Socio-Ecological Model emphasizes the linkages and relationships among multiple factors (or determinants) affecting health (Institute of Medicine, 2003), noting that no single factor holds greater importance than another. The organizations below utilize the Socio-Ecological Model to address violence prevention in communities.

Willamette Public Health’s Socio-Ecological Model provides a comprehensive understanding into how different elements of the model are layered and may influence sexual harassment and cultural change in the workplace. Below WPH defines the relationship between these layered elements.

Public Policy is federal, state and local regulatory measures, laws, and guiding principles, including the relationship between federal organizations, associations and private companies. An example of public policy for the workplace is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, disability, equal pay/compensation, genetic information, harassment, national origin, pregnancy, race/color, religion, retaliation, sex, and sexual harassment.

An Organization is a bureau, agency, association, or company that is structured and managed to meet perceived needs or goals. Each organization creates its own norms and cultures addressing sexual harassment. All employees are protected by the same law at the public policy level. However, it is up to each organization to decide what type of training to provide their employees and how to ensure compliance. Without clearly defined policies and adequate training, employees will not be able to appropriately address workplace issues.

Workplace is a community of individuals that have shared expectations, standards and principles that guide behavior and their outcomes. Ensuring that employees are well-educated in these critical organizational policies, and have the tools to create constructive worksite relationships, will positively impact employee retention, productivity, and workplace safety.

An Individual brings personal knowledge, beliefs, and behaviors, as influenced by their family, friends and chosen personal community into the workplace. Each individual will interact in the workplace differently based on their unique background, and having a common set of workplace expectations, standards and principles smooths out these differences and makes the workplace functional.

Using the socio-ecological model, TMI Action provides a holistic approach to sexual misconduct and harassment prevention in your workplace. Contact us today, to find out how we can help you